Day: November 25, 2014

Review: What Forest Knows by George Ella Lyon

what forest knows

What Forest Knows by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by August Hall

This poetic exploration of the seasons invites young readers into the forest to see what happens to the animals and plants as the seasons change.  It begins with snow, which is something the forest knows well.  It also knows about waiting, so it waits as the animals in the forest sleep and rest during the cold.  Then buds come and creeks run and birds fly and it’s spring.  All of the animals and insects awaken and come out into the growing grass.  Fruit arrives with fall, nuts ready for squirrels to harvest.  Animals eat to survive the next winter.  Finally, there is snow again in the forest and an invitation to make the forest yours too.

Lyon’s poem is glorious.  She winds through the forest along with the breezes, touching down and pointing out exactly the right things.  It’s a poem that is organic and natural, celebrating everything in the woods, the ongoing changes, and allowing us to see ourselves reflected in the woods as well.  This book is an invitation to explore during all seasons, to look for birds and bugs and mammals as we walk. 

Hall’s illustrations add to that immense appeal of nature and the forest.  His paintings play with the light as it changes through the seasons as well as the colors of the trees and the grass as the time passes.  They are dappled and lush, filled with the movement of the wind and the movement of the leaves. 

A great addition to the crowded shelves about seasons, this picture book combines poetry with gorgeous illustrations.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Review: Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato

little eliot big city

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato

Eliot loved living in the big city, but sometimes it was hard being such a small elephant in such a huge place.  He had to watch out so he didn’t get stepped on, doorknobs could be too high, and he could never catch a cab.  Even at home, Eliot had to find a way to make everyday things work.  Eliot also loved cupcakes, though when he tried to buy  one in a shop he couldn’t get noticed by the person at the counter.  He felt very small and invisible then, but on the way home he discovered a mouse trying to reach some food and found that even though he may be small he can make a big difference.  Even better, he can make friends!

Curato uses only a few words to tell his story, making the most of the illustrations to show the ways that Eliot solves his height issues at home as well as how the new friends solve the cupcake buying problem.  Children will enjoy reading about this little polka-dotted elephant who faces the same issues that they do in life.  They will easily relate to the sadness of being ignored too. 

The illustrations in this book are filled with charm.  Eliot himself is a wonderfully unusual little fellow, shining on the page.  The images of the city are mostly done in a dark and subtle color palette.  The entire book has a fifties vibe to it and some of the images are pulled right out of an Edward Hopper painting.  It’s a courageous choice that works particularly well.

A charmer of a protagonist and an urban landscape make this one delicious cupcake of a picture book.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt & Co.